February 28 is National Spay Day!
Cats left unspayed and unneutered whether in free-ranging colonies or in your own home will produce as many kittens as their bodies will allow. Some hoarding situations begin with two kittens who were never spayed or neutered, and many stray/feral colonies begin with one pregnant female who someone tossed out to fend for herself.
Every spring shelters prepare for “kitten season”, when dozens of unwanted kittens arrive at shelters every day until autumn. It’s not likely, but a cat can have up to five litters in a year, bearing 6 or more kittens per litter. More realistically, three litters of four kittens per year is still a dozen new kittens each year, as many as 60 kittens born over five years to one cat. Add in all the kittens those kittens might produce in addition to their mother, and it’s just out of control.
While you may find new litters of kittens in the middle of the winter, a cat’s reproductive system responds to day length and the middle of February is a typical start, even for older kittens. Cats require 12 hours of light per day to maintain normal cycles. Puberty usually occurs at 5 to 12 months of age, entering a heat cycle on an average of every 2 or 3 weeks that vary widely in length.
Boy cats do have babies, they just don’t give birth to them, but that doesn’t leave them off the hook for issues of animal overpopulation, not to mention the nasty behaviors unneutered cats indulge in. A friend who thought she lived too far from anyone else decided not to neuter her male kitten, but not to worry, the girls found him!
In a 2005 study done at the University of Pennsylvania, “cats spayed prior to 6 months had a 91% reduction…those spayed prior to one year had an 86% reduction in the risk of mammary carcinoma development compared with intact cats.” Spaying between 1 and 2 years of age only reduces the risk by 11%, and after two years it doesn’t reduce the risk at all. Actually giving birth to kittens doesn’t change the risk factors, either.
BEAT THE HEAT WITH ANIMAL FRIENDS in February. Cat spay promotion for all of February, only $20 per cat spayed. Call 412.847.7004 or visit www.ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org. Animal Friends offers an income based voucher program; Contact Carol Whaley of the Low Cost Spay/Neuter Program (LCSN).
VALENTINE’S CAT SPAY/NEUTER CLINIC IN REGENT SQUARE on February 16. Frankie’s Friends will bring their mobile spay/neuter unit to Animal Nature in Regent Square, 7610 Forbes Ave. $50 spay, $35 neuter, includes rabies vaccination, flea treatment, and ear mite treatment, vaccinations available for an extra charge. Call 412-723-2194 to make a reservation.
THE HOMELESS CAT MANAGEMENT TEAM offers TNR services for stray and feral cats. Also available at very low cost for rescue cats, household pets or even cats simply kept outdoors if they are owned by someone. Visit www.homelesscat.org. Upcoming Low-cost Spay and Neuter Clinics for Cats: 2/10 – Fast Track; 3/3 – Fast Track; 3/24 – Free for Ferals.
THE CITY OF PITTSBURGH provides a free spay/neuter voucher for up to five pets per household to city residents. For more information: www.pittsburghpa.gov/animalcontrol/spay_neuter.htm.
THE ANIMAL RESCUE LEAGUE Tuesday through Friday a cat is spayed or neutered and given basic veterinary care for $55.00, with a special clinic for strays and ferals for $20.00 or $30.00. www.animalrescue.org/veterinaryclinic-spay-and-neuter.
THE WESTERN PENNSYLVANIA HUMANE SOCIETY has a low-cost spay/neuter program for cats and dogs, a $65.00 Spay Day just for cats, and ongoing “Trap-Neuter-Return” (TNR) services for feral cats for $30.00. www.wpahumane.org.
THE SPAY NEUTER CLINIC IN PENN HILLS offers low-cost cat spay and neuter under $50.00 as well as other basic services. Call 412-244-1202 or visit their website at www.spayaz.com/pittsburgh-pa.